Weather forecast data broken down into specific regions and store clusters Safeway signs Met Office Safeway is forecasting better in store availability of weather dependent lines thanks to a three-year £300,000 deal with the Met Office. Daily weather reports will be e-mailed to Safeway planners, who will also be able to use the Internet to tap into graphical and textual forecasts. The short and medium-term weather information has been tailored so it is broken down into specific regions and store clusters. Director of supply chain operations Jim Drummond said the deal marked a "quantum leap forward". The most obvious benefit is that Safeway will be better able to spot when sudden surges in demand for products like ice creams and salads may occur (see feature, p28). "We are doing okay at the moment, but we are trying to be much more sophisticated," said Drummond. "If we use this information it will make our lives a little bit easier and a little bit less stressful. It means we can plan better ­ and suppliers will not get last minute calls." But Drummond said the forecasts will help every area of the business ­ from those running its distribution network to project managers building new stores. Information on weather extremes abroad affecting harvests can also be accessed giving buyers the chance to see as early as possible when they may need to source produce from another country. Looking further ahead, Safeway hopes suppliers will be able to access the information via the Intranet using its Supplier Information System. It believes it will eventually be able to link historical weather data and sales data to provide a predictive model of consumer behaviour against climate conditions. l Safeway is about to start trials of real time sales based ordering at its Gravesend store. {{NEWS }}